As a new year begins, cancer survivors and the community that support them are gearing up for the 2009 Relay for Life. The yearly fundraising event will kick-off on Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. in the Pinnacle Canyon Academy lunch room and is open to anyone interested in helping end a disease that will affect one in every three Americans during the course of their lives.
Carbon County will celebrate its 15th relay this year, and while some in the community have shown extended support, those in charge of the '09 event are looking to raise the stakes, gather additional community support and put on fundraiser to be remembered.
"Although we did well in terms of funds raised last year, we have seen community support waver somewhat," said 2009 relay chairperson Paula Wells. "Celebrating our 15th relay is a great achievement and we are going to do whatever it takes to get the people excited about this year's event."
Funds raised for the American Cancer Society event have benefited Carbon County greatly and will continue to, explained Wells. The ACS has helped to sponsor the building of Castleview Hospital's Cancer Center and its continued upkeep and renovation. Money garnered from the event has also provided the local community with cutting edge vaccines and extended life expectancy for those facing many types of cancer.
The Relay for Life is the ACS's signature event. It offers everyone in the community an opportunity to participate in the fight against cancer. Teams of individuals camp at the College of Eastern Utah campus and take turns walking or running around the track. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event at the overnight event that can run for up to 24 hours.
"Teams of people from all walks of life have fun while raising much needed funds to fight cancer and raise awareness concerning cancer prevention and treatment," states the relay's website at www.relayforlife.org.
The relay site reports that nationally, relay brings together more than 3.5 million people to:
â¢Celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer as the strength of survivors inspires others to continue their fight.
â¢Remember loved ones lost to the disease.
â¢And fight back as cancer has touched many who desperately want to help bring an end to the disease.
Teams who register before Jan. 31 will be charged $50 to join the event and teams signing up after that point will be charged $100.
However, if individuals are interested in participating there are a limited number of sponsorships available and those interested in sponsoring or being sponsored can contact local sponsorship chairperson Ruth Metzger.
"I have already had two individuals commit to sponsorships and am hoping to garner more today," said Metzger during an interview Wednesday.
"We really would like to see more community participation this year, we want to invite all teams that have relayed before to come back anyone who has a glimmer of interest to show up at the kick-off and learn more about their local relay."
Metzger noted that any interested teams should contact team recruitment chair Karen Spigarelli regarding returning to the event or joining for the first time. She will be in attendance at the relay's kick-off.
The funds raised by local communities save lives by funding cutting edge cancer research, early detection and prevention advocacy efforts as well as life affirming patient services.
"It is because of your involvement that the ACS is able to save lives, help those battling cancer and empower all to fight back against the disease," explains the relay website. "One person can make a difference."
That rings true as the history of Relay for Life can be traced by to one individual.
In the mid-1980s, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma, Wash. colorectal surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local ACS office and show support for all his patients who had battled cancer.
He decided to personally raise money for the fight by doing something he enjoyed, running marathons.
According to the relay site, in May of 1985, Dr. Klatt spent 24 hours circling a running track near his office running for more than 83 miles.
"That first year, nearly 300 of Dr. Klatt's friends, family and patients watched as he ran and walked the course," the site explains. "Throughout the night, friends donated $25 to run or walk with Dr. Klatt for 30 minutes and his efforts raised $27,000 to fight cancer."
In 1986, with the help of Pat Flynn, now known as the mother of relay, 19 teams took part in the first team relay event and raised more than $33,000.
The rest, as they say, is history as relay has popped up everywhere in the county and become a massive national success.
The theme chosen for this year's relay is, "Back to the Future," and it is the hope of those involved with the project that the local community will look back to Dr. Klatt's dedication and do whatever possible to support the 2009 Relay for Life.